SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: November 28, 2005
Smart Galley steams along
NATICK, Mass. -- The second phase of the Smart Galley project, creating a mock galley in the Combat Feeding Navy Lab at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center here, has been completed.
Benefits of the automated system were shown during a project review and demonstration in August for members of the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD), the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and Cmdr. Mike Hanson, Naval Supply Systems Command Food Service Director.
The concept of the Smart Galley is to help reduce shipboard labor and to improve quality of life on Navy ships.
“This idea is to combine known technology and new technology to explore an automated approach to galleys,” said Dave Walker of Foster-Miller, who worked with CFD through a Small Business Innovation Research effort to create the mock galley.
As the Navy looks to transform and streamline its operation, ships often have smaller crews. In a sample case presented, about 9 percent of the crew was dedicated to food service.
Many of the tasks performed are very labor-intensive, such as maintenance and repair of appliances, food preparation, and cooking. Smart Galley would reduce the time spent on these tasks and free up the crew for other essential tasks.
The Smart Galley uses off-the-shelf software on a main computer. This main computer would have a layout of the galley on the screen, which would identify the various appliances it’s connected to. Through touchscreens, a Sailor or engineer would be able to control appliances, check maintenance schedules, plan meals, check on problems and more.
The maintenance area is expected to see a significant return on investment with the Smart Galley. Through detailed diagnostics, the Smart Galley will be able to identify not only which appliance is having a problem, but what the problem is. It has an alert system that will notify the operator whether the problem is something as simple as the dishwasher has no soap or if the problem is a more serious system failure. If there is a component failure, a message can be sent not only to the operator, but to the engineering group to let them know about the problem, and this could be tied into a parts list to help with inventory.
According to Ken Ryan, project officer, CFD, this could eliminate the need for a maintenance person going into the galley to check on appliances. In addition, regular maintenance schedules can be programmed into Smart Galley and there will be pop-up screens as reminders that maintenance needs to be or hasn’t been done.
At one point, the demonstration turned into reality. An example had been set for the dishwasher to run remotely. However, due to construction in the building, the diagnostics capability of the mock galley noted that the dishwasher was not at the correct water inlet temperature. The diagnostics capability would not allow the appliance to run until it had reached the correct temperature. Correct temperature is essential for sanitation.
The Smart Galley also can be programmed to evaluate performance of appliances in order to identify degraded performance and predict failure before it happens (a process known as prognostics).
The idea is to have normal operating standards for each appliance and then monitor the actual operations vs. the expected operations.
Rob DiLalla, a mechanical engineer, said the Smart Galley gives operators the chance to measure the performance of their equipment.
“You can’t control what you don’t measure,” he said.
Meal planning is another area that could benefit from the Smart Galley.
Sailors will be able to use an automated worksheet, which could pull information such as cooking instructions right from recipes in a database, and once the meal was planned, schedule the appliances with an automated start time. The Smart Galley will automatically check for conflicts and notify the operator if any are found. The operator is always able to change any set point.
The worksheet would be able to calculate portions, and if there was some way to monitor galley choices with an automated user system, such as a smart swipe card, eventually leftovers would be reduced.
The mock galley in CFD is set up with 12 appliances, including combi-oven, convection oven, skittle, griddle, dishwasher and freezer. All the appliances in the mock galley are set up as if they are a true “Smart Galley” and can be monitored off of the main system. Two items, the combi-oven and a convection oven, are set up with supervisory control modules. This gives them dual functions; the operator can set production requirements on the appliances, as well as allowing the system to be controlled remotely.
“The items with supervisory controls can always be controlled manually if necessary and the operators are able to edit any of the pre-set information,” Ryan said.
If the appliance is changed locally, the information is fed back into the main computer and the Smart Galley will adjust based on the new information. During the demonstration, the combi-oven was set for a meal—with start time and temperature—and was remotely started. When it was at the correct pre-heated temperature, an audible alarm sounded indicating it was ready and looking for the oven to be loaded. The rest of the cycle won’t begin until the computer knows that the door has been opened (to load food). At the end of a cycle, it can be programmed to repeat the cycle, hold a cycle, or shut the oven off.
The system can monitor oven temperature to ensure it is correct for food safety. If there’s a problem, not only will it give a visual warning on the screen, but it will sound an audible alarm. For monitoring of food temperature, one idea being looked at is to have a networked hand-held temperature probe hooked up to a personal digital assistant, which can read the information and send it back to the system.
Smart Galley will be compatible with appliances currently on ships. No special wiring would be needed to upgrade the pre-existing systems. Installation on some classes of ships would be a simple retrofit, have a minimal impact, and would turn existing appliances into “smart” appliances. A simple Ethernet would form the network.
Hanson said he sees “a lot of goodness” with the project, and thinks it would be “great” with regard to maintenance monitoring.
In the future he would like to see where they might be able to tie this project into other new technologies, such as RFID, and other smart ideas that the Navy or the Department of Defense (DOD) may be working.
Gerald Darsch, director of CFD, said that as the Navy transforms for the future, it will want to take the best of all initiatives that are being worked on throughout DOD. He said that aspects of the Smart Galley program could be combined with other ideas, such as passive tagging for inventory management or other supply chain management ideas, to increase total asset visibility. As the CFD conducts a Joint Service Program, interest in this automated system by the other services will be closely watched to ensure joint service interoperability.
According to Ryan, the next steps to be worked on include continued testing in the maintenance area, development of retrofit kits for existing appliances, full system testing at mock galley to show the project is ready for ship use and establishing the cost of a ship demonstration.
For more information about the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center, please visit our website at: http://www.natick.army.mil.